I am the in-house designer for a company that employs 8 marketing managers. These marketing managers are the ones that supply me with the lion-share of my projects.

However, more and more, the marketing managers are asking for the native files, so they can make changes to the materials I've created and use those files to create additional materials.

The issue I am having with this is, the marketing materials they are creating with my natives are absolutely terrible. What is troubling to me also, is they don't seem to care, in their eyes it's "good enough". They would rather create something fast and on the fly than have me create it.

Now I can understand the convenience for them, sometimes they need something fast, however the designer side of me is appalled that our customers are being presented with materials that look, quite frankly, terrible.

I'd be totally fine with this if I didn't work for the same company, but I do, and I have pride in the materials that our customers see. So part me would like to take a stand and say that all marketing materials should flow through me, but that would cause quite a stir.

Anybody else experience something like this?

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    This is exactly the type of question we would like to see here. Thanks for posting and welcome to the community! Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 18:15
  • 1
    It wouldn't hurt in a meeting to arm yourself with a couple samples of unacceptable design items which managed to escape into the wild, though this might make some people angry.
    – horatio
    Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 15:06

4 Answers 4


In addition to Philip's excellent answer (money always gets their attention), point out that the MMs are changing the documents so that they no longer reflect corporate standards. "The company branding is being diluted" is a good way to put it. Your job is to make everything look good and look consistent, and they are damaging the company's appearance.

If the MMs come back to upper management with complaints about turnaround time (that is, they feel like they have to do the work themselves because you don't get jobs back to them fast enough), then you ask for a meeting (maybe with their overall manager? and yours?) to address workflow and figure out how jobs can be routed in a timely manner while maintaining company design standards.

It may be that they're giving you jobs with too little lead time, so they have to learn what constitutes "far enough in advance," or you have to change how you prioritize work. Another possible compromise if time is an issue is that no work can leave the office without your approval: the MMs can do whatever they like, but it must have your signoff before it's released to the public, and you must have the native files to sign off on them so you can fix whatever they've done. (Not an ideal solution, but a potential peace offering.)

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    All of these are excellent ways to approach the conversation. +1, though certainly deserving of more votes. Commented Aug 15, 2011 at 19:55

You have a problem with how the process of creating these marketing materials gets handled, and some clear policies need to be put in place.

At my company the designers, and only the designers, create layouts and make changes. Any changes that the MMs want simply get marked up and handed over. A few rounds of changes aren't out of the ordinary, but the process is made efficient because everyone is focused on their area of expertise. The MMs don't even have the software on their PCs to make the changes in the first place.

I'm willing to bet that if upper management knew that MMs were spending their time away from marketing duties by making changes to documents when there is already someone paid full-time to do this, they would change that situation real fast in your favor. My suggestion would be to go through the proper channels (have your boss speak with their boss) to get the native files out of their hands.

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    Thanks for the feedback, unfortunately the MMs, got a hold of the design software some time ago, and only because my work load has increased have they started doing more things themselves. Not like I asked them too...They just hate that I am too busy to do projects for them with only a one or two day turnaround. I ask, why not plan ahead, and they ACTUALLY SAY "I don't work that way...Just give me the native files and will do it myself"...UGH! that's when I bang my head up against the wall
    – kdub
    Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 0:09
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    @kdub: You certainly have some change management ahead of you, but all of the answers here, including Alan's answer, are all excellent ways to approach the issue. You can also broach the topic of getting another designer, even part-time, as a solution as well. I've been in this situation before and it is resolvable. Good luck! Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 0:13

In a word: "No." Your concerns are exactly on point, and I'd echo Philip's and Lauren's suggestions. There is a point where office politics on the one hand, and the scramble to meet deadlines on the other, become destructive. If ever there was a case, this is it.

Besides the points already covered, I would suggest looking to an InDesign/InCopy workflow as a possible solution that might satisfy both parties. With InCopy, your MMs can update the copy in a particular piece in order to meet a deadline without having the opportunity to turn the design into a dog's breakfast, while you maintain control of the branding and quality of presentation.

Your first task, though, is to bring about an awareness in management that there is a problem, without coming across as a nay-sayer or a victim. Ironically, this is in itself a marketing problem, albeit entirely in-house. The way you do this is to (always, always) present a solution at the same time as you raise the issue. As Sun Tzu would say, always leave your enemy with a path of retreat so they don't decide to fight to the death.

By presenting a solution, you reinforce the perception that you have the company's best interests at heart (which you obviously do) without denigrating the efforts of the MMs, who mostly likely are also people of good will trying to solve a problem the best way they know how.

You're also not just dumping the problem on some already-overloaded senior manager's plate. The last thing most managers want is to become the referee in an inter-departmental quarrel, so if you give them something they don't have to start investigating (because all the information is there), something they can just say "Looks good" and sign off on, you multiply your chances of getting something approved by about 500%.

  • excellent answer also..I have been thinking about InCopy for a while now for some of our big projects...But if the workflow for small projects isn't too cumbersome that might be the perfect answer.
    – kdub
    Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 0:13
  • Check out Anne-Marie Concepcion's tutorials on lynda.com, and/or go to InDesignSecrets.com and poke around there. She's an InCopy advocate and consultant, with serious chops in the area. Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 20:23

Chiming in late, but a point for MM types to think about: Apple didn't become the most valuable company in the world with "good enough".

Design as an after thought is how you get mediocre work.

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